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Plating Thickness Analysis

Plating of metals run the gamut between old well documented techniques like electroplating, pure chemical deposition to more modern advanced methods like physical or atomic deposition.  Creating an additional surface layer allows engineers to combine material and chemical properties from more than one material in a controllable, reproducible way. A hard, durable alloy with poor chemical reactivity can be plated with a more inert material to protect it, a soft alloy can be combined with a harder skin to increase wear quality, or optically attractive layers or coatings are applied to change the appearance and optical properties of the metal. All of these techniques can add additional benefits to materials in manufacturing, but they can also create potential problems which require an understanding of the properties and materials used in concert with one another.


EMSL has a deep host of experience with not only the underlying sciences of metallurgy and materials science, but also with the various techniques used in creating plating and coating layers. From simple metallurgical polished cross sections designed to confirm gross grain structure and layer thickness to advanced grain orientation and film composition analysis.  EMSL can support your application issues. In addition to traditionally used optical and SEM microscopy and EDS composition techniques, EMSL uses advanced EBSD mapping, capable of being performed in 3d, to analyze not only material composition but also examine the grain orientation across a plating boundary. Our capability to perform GD-OES can document alloy composition with extremely high precision, as well as create a depth profile of the plating in a given area. Thin film XRD can perform bulk analysis measurements, and microCT can examine coating contiguity across an entire worked part. While common in mechanical design and large parts, these same techniques can be scaled down, using FIB cross sections, TEM polished samples, and XPS instead of OES spectroscopy, fine sub-micron coatings, flash layers, and ALD treatments can also be examined.


EMSL has the analytical tools to support your plating applications. With the ability to work with engineers to create a customized analysis plan, materials can be examined for mechanical, structural, and chemical defects, creating the potential for clients to engage services ranging from simple quality control verification, to full failure and process analysis designed to help extricate problems in a complex mutli-stage plating and treating process. Let our staff of scientists talk to you about your applications by calling today. 

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